Blogs

Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will normally go up on Mondays by 1:00 PM USA Eastern time. Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of  eight books and over 1900 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!
Also out - Table Tennis TipsMore Table Tennis Tips, and Still More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, 2014-2016, and 2017-2020, with 150 Tips in each!

Or, for a combination of Tales of our sport and Technique articles, try Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
If you are in the mood for inspirational fiction, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

May 26, 2020

Tip of the Week
Three Types of Anticipation.

Cartoon of the Week:
Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. I had some free time.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
As noted in my blog last week, my book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" came out last Monday! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right? A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)

Juniors at the Maryland Table Tennis Center Training Online with Zoom
Here's the USATT article I wrote, which features MDTTC junior team caption Stephanie Zhang, along with brother James, and coaches Wang Qingliang and John Hsu.

USATT Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Athletes, Coaches, and Parents
It was held on Zoom last Thursday, May 21, and lasted just under an hour. Attendees varied from 39 to 42, including many US National Team members and coaches, along with USATT CEO Virginia Sung, COO Mark Thompson, High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, Director of Para Programs Jasna Rather, National Team Coach/Manager Teodor "Doru" Gheorghe, High Performance Committee Chair Bruce Liu, US Men's Team Captain Yijun Feng, US Women's Team Captain Wu Yue, and board members Richard Char (chair), Niraj Oak (athlete rep) and Tara Profitt (athlete rep).

The items of most interest to me were the ones by Yijun Feng and Doru Gheorghe, where they are setting up weekly meetings and online training for juniors. See the USATT news item soon on the "Ask the Champs" program. The Weekly Junior and Cadet Online Training Program is open to any USATT member age 18 and under - for information, email Doru Gheorghe.

Here was the agenda:

  1. Virginia Sung – Welcome Message
  2. Tara Profitt – Reminder on Athlete Safety
  3. Mark Thompson – Return to Play and Code of Conduct Forms
  4. Bruce Liu – Update on National Team Selection Procedures
  5. Jasna Rather – ITTF Updates (Olympics, Worlds, Pan Ams, Hopes)
  6. Yijun Feng – "Ask the Champs" - weekly meetings to help the young players.
  7. Doru Gheorghe – Weekly Junior and Cadet On-line Training Program (physical & mental) – Each week the coaches will choose MVP
  8. Sean O'Neill – Summarize the completion Sports Psychology and Off Table Training. Online Collaboration (Google Docs/Microsoft Teams). STUPA. Mention Coaches meeting on Friday, will open the floor for Q&A, depending on the time.

MH Table Tennis: 30 Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days
Here's the video page. Matt Hetherington of MH Table Tennis is making one every day! (If you find his videos of value, here's his GoFundMe page.) Here are the recent ones (also see the playlists at the bottom of the page), along with the two-part interview at the end with Zoran Primorac (Chair of the ITTF Athletes Commission, former world #2, two-time Men's World Cup Champion, semifinalist at the Worlds in Men's Singles, Silver Medalist in Men's Doubles at the Olympics).  

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT

New from Ping Sunday/EmRatThich

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

=>BEGIN COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS SECTION

ITTF COVID-19 Guidelines

Handsfree Infrared Thermometer for Table Tennis Clubs
Here's the video (60 sec) from Mossa Barandao, founder of PongMobile, which has pivoted to help address the current crisis. "Prevention will be the key as many businesses begin to reopen their doors. Be a step ahead of COVID-19 and consider including the accurate, simple, quick, and precise Handsfree Infrared Thermometer." (Video is from the Washington DC TTC.)

Broward Table Tennis Club - Rules for the Covid-19 Period
Here are their new rules - see the first six, which might be a model for other clubs reopening. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

JOOLA Medical
Here's the page for JoolaMedical. JOOLA Table Tennis has pivoted into making medical masks, as previously reported. Here are videos from NBC News (1:44) and MoCoCouncilMD (3:20).

New from Steve Rowe
Four more of his Aerobic TT at Home videos came out this week (#7-10). Here are all ten so far. Here's his video Ping-Pong Literacy and Aerobic Table Tennis (45 sec) and the home page for Aerobic Table Tennis. (Why is this in the Covid-19 section? So you can exercise at home while we wait for table tennis clubs to reopen! Some have reopened - it's a gradual process, and mostly based on region.)

=>END COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS SECTION

USATT PongPositive Interviews
Here's the page. This week they interviewed Dell & Connie Sweeris, and Jessica Yu.

New from USATT

New from Steve Hopkins

Who Loves College Table Tennis? Join NCTTA Directors!

The Top Three…The Table Tennis Survey Results
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Sports Without Fans - Time for Boring Sports
Here's the article by Shashin Shodhan.

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

ITTF High Performance Development Webinar - Planning for Training & Competition
Here's the ITTF video (64 min).

TTBL Top 10: Kanak Jha Video Shots
Here's the video (4:20).

Jimmy Butler (4-time US Men's Singles Champ - 1990, 1992, 1993, 2014!) and 2021 Olympian Huijing Wang - Training Session and Match
Here's the video (5:53). Jimmy: "Didn't end well for me."

Sweden VS China at the 1989 World Team Table Tennis Championships: When the Looping Game Ended the Reign of the Pips-Out Quick Hitter/Blocker
Here's the video (3:14) showing highlights. This was really the moment when the superiority of the European looping game over the Chinese pips-out hitting game became apparent. China stuck with that style for a few more years, until getting clobbered in 1993, after which they almost completely transitioned to loopers (with the notable exception of Liu Guoliang) - and now they are the dominant masters of that style.

Kanak Jha on The Voice
Here's the video. Normally it's a show about singing, but they highlighted Olympic sports in this episode (table tennis, curling, and artistic swimming), as explained at 41:40. They jump back and forth between the sports. US Olympian Kanak Jha (also US Men's Singles Champion the last four years in a row) tries to teach table tennis to Nick Jonas, and shows up at 42:34, 43:00, 43:57, 44;33, and 41:59.

Will Shortz on To Tell the Truth
Here's the video - go to 18:35 (he's in the middle). Besides being the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Editor, Will Shortz is the owner of the Westchester TTC and has been rated over 1900. At 30:33, see where one of the contestants says to him, "And you live to play ping-pong"! One thing - near the end, when they are trying to figure out which of #2 and #3 is the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Editor, #3 says he's used "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" in a NY Times crossword - which should immediately have told everyone that he was NOT the NY Times Crossword Editor, since you can't fit a 45-letter word on one of their crosswords! Also, he badly mispronounces the word, which I'm pretty sure Will could roll off his tongue like it was nothing. (When I was in elementary school I learned of this word, and nerdy me learned to both say it and spell it. It's a lung disease!)

Wally Green - Celebrity Table Tennis Player
Here's the podcast (34:56).

Table Tennis Caricatures
Here's the ITTF page! (Here's the non-Facebook version, though you'll have to go to the Facebook version if you want to verify, via the comments, who each of the nine characters/top players are.) Here's what appears to be the original source, in Chinese, with 33 caricatures.

Ping-Pong in Small Apartments?
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

New from Adam Bobrow
See his many other past videos on his YouTube Channel!

Weird Ping Pong
Here's the video (3:35) from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - Philosopher Rex
I just sold "Philosopher Rex" to Zooscape Magazine. It's about a philosophizing T-Rex that meets our earliest ancestors - lemur-like creatures - during the final days of the dinosaurs, and how their attitudes toward each other change after this pivotal meeting. (No talking animals, but we get the T-Rex's thoughts.) It's my 111th science fiction & fantasy short story sale.

Non-Table Tennis - "Going My Way" Made Me Famous!
I'm famous! While watching the movie "Going My Way" on Monday (Best Picture 1945), I noticed a mistake. So I sent it in to the IMDB "Goofs" panel. I received an immediate email that it would go through their fact-checking  team first. Later I checked on it, and it was up!!! Now the huge numbers of people in world who watch "Going My Way" every day and click on "Goofs" will see my immortal words (without my name on it since all "Goofs" are anonymous):

"After seeing the bishop, Father Fitzgibbon calls Father O'Malley into his office where they have a long talk. There's a clock in the background, often seen over O'Malley's shoulder. From the first and last time you see it about three minutes goes by, but the clock always says 5:35."

Watching "Going My Way" was part of my goal of seeing all 92 Academy Award Best Picture winners. I've now seen 81 them, including all of them from 1944 to the present. Of the fifteen from 1928 to 1943 I've seen four (Gone with the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, It Happened One Night, and All Quiet on the Western Front), so eleven to go. Next up, probably tonight: 1942's Mrs. Miniver (the winner in 1943).

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May 25, 2020

Happy Memorial Day! Like many others, I'm taking today off, and so this week's blog will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). However, the Tip of the Week is up: Three Types of Anticipation. To help tide you over, here's Weird Ping Pong (3:35) from Pongfinity! Plus, since I had some free time, here's a cartoon I created: Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Enjoy, and see you tomorrow!

How am I spending my day, you ask? I've spent part of this past weekend as a panelist at the online Balticon Science Fiction Convention, but my panels are done, so I may attend a few panels as a spectator. But I plan to spend most of today moving toward a new goal of mine - to see all 92 movies that have won best Best Picture at the Academy Awards, from "Wings" in 1928 to the present. I've seen 79 of them, including every one from 1947 to the present, so 13 to go! From the link above, from 1928 to 1946 the ones I have seen are Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, It Happened One Night, and All Quiet on the Western Front. (Note that the year listed is the year they won, but it's actually for movies that came out the year before.) I'm going in reverse order, so next up is The Lost Weekend.

If I get tired of watching, I may take a break and write up some future Tips of the Week - I have several outlined. I plan to write up a bunch of them this week. Don't forget to buy your copy of Still More Table Tennis Tips!!! (You have, of course, already gotten your copies of Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips, of course. In three years, we'll have "And Still More Table Tennis Tips"!)

May 18, 2020

Tip of the Week
Mind Games: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
My book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" is now on sale at Amazon! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right?

A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. The book was originally going to come out on June 1, but they got back to me quickly, and these days it doesn't take long to publish.  (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)

When Will They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again?
Here's the cartoon! (I had some free time.)

Numerical Musings on Table Tennis and the Coronavirus and Other Issues
I finally found a use for my math degree! (Skip ahead if your eyes start to glaze over.)

  • You can fit about 3.05 x 10^26 coronaviruses inside a ping-pong ball. That's 305,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 305 septillion.
  • If you completely covered a ping-pong table with coronaviruses, you could fit about 2.7 x 10^20 viruses, or 270 quintillion.
  • A coronavirus has a diameter of about 0.125 nanometers. That means 8 billion coronaviruses in a line would be about one meter long, and 8 million of them would be a millimeter long. If your rubber and sponge covering is 4mm wide, then it would take 32 million of these viruses standing on top of each other to reach that height. It would take about 1.2 billion to reach the height of a net.
  • If you were to arrange coronaviruses into a 40,000 x 40,000 square (that's 1.6 billion viruses), and had very good eyesight, you could just barely see it as a tiny, almost invisible speck. The same would be true if you arranged them into a 40,000 x 40,000 x 40,000 cube, which would be 64 trillion viruses.
  • This Friday I will be 22,000 days old, according to the online Days Old Calculator.
  • Since the lockdown began, I've had at least five times where I went five days without talking to anyone (excluding giving orders at restaurant drive-throughs and an occasional "Hi!" to the people who rent from me downstairs). The record was nine days, which ended with the Ping Pong Playa interview below last Thursday - I wasn't sure if I still remembered how to speak! (But I'm getting a lot of reading and writing done, and am active online.)

Ping Pong Playa
I wrote about the movie Ping Pong Playa in my blog last week. Coincidentally or not, USATT arranged an online interview last Thursday with the director (Jessica Yu) and star (Jimmy Tsai), and invited many to attend. The interview, mostly conducted by USATT COO Mark Thompson, lasted 75 minutes, with about 35 people attending, including almost the entire USA National men’s and women’s team and coaches, along with all sorts of other prominent people – the entire USATT staff, Dell & Connie Sweeris, Adam Bobrow, Diego Schaaf and Wei Wang, and many more. I was able to ask three questions near the end, about how they prepared for the table tennis scenes; plans and ideas for a sequel (which had already been brought up); and about the ball that was put in by computer.

=>BREAKING NEWS - Here's the video (51 min) - it went up late on Tuesday afternoon. I was told that the screen went bad for the last part, including when I asked questions, so that's not included - it apparently lost to posterity.

30 Table Tennis Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days from MH Table Tennis
Here's the MH Table Tennis video page - from Matt Hetherington. It has a plethora of new coaching tutorials, plus new interviews with Adrian Crisan and Liam Pitchford.

But the coronavirus has affected lots of coaches, including Matt, who (like many of us) can't coach right now. But he's decided to stay busy, and work for your support. If you like his videos and interviews, perhaps see his GoFundMe page. Here's an excerpt from it:

"As some of you know I left my job with USATT a couple of months ago, and my next plans fell through because of COVID-19. I'm also no longer able to coach at the club. Due to my ongoing health issues I have relatively expensive health insurance and medical costs that are constant and have had 0 income for the past 2.5 months. I'm currently in a position where I am throwing as much effort as I can into a number of projects to try and keep myself afloat."

He also writes on his home page, "You can also reach me at mhtabletennis@gmail.com for Zoom/Skype coaching, video analysis or other online coaching options."

Connect. Coach. Contribute.
Here's the new USATT initiative to help member clubs provide remote coaching services to their members with US Olympians.

Backhand Tutorial with Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here's the video (4:11) - you don't want to miss this! (It's in English.) The German is #11 in the world, but was #2 just a year ago (April 2019). He's known for his backhand.

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT

How to Stay in Shape and Improve with Shadow Practice
Here's the video (15 sec) - if you can't go to the club, you can at least do this! Can you identify the five-stroke sequence she's repeating?

Smartest Serves In Table Tennis History
Here's the video (4:13)!

A Life Without Table Tennis (sort of)
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Touchless Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

USATT PongPositive Interviews
Here they are - 23 as of this posting. The latest are of Samson Dubina, Si and Patty Martinez, and Roman Tinyszin.

New from USATT

New from Steve Hopkins

National Collegiate Table Tennis Elections
Here's the news item.

Jorgen Persson Named Head Coach of the Swedish National Team
Here's the video announcement (26 sec) from Jorgen himself. See also the ITTF news item.

New from the ITTF

Bettor Wins an Astounding $25K on Wild Table Tennis Parlay
Here's the article from USA Today.

Creative Pong
Here's the video (1:48) - "We set our players a challenge of who could hit the ball into a tub in the most creative way."

The Fifty-Foot Serve
Here's the video (15 sec) of Scott Preiss demonstrating the serve - it's my favorite exhibition serve as well! At breaks at our camps in the past I've taught the serve to the more advanced kids, where they compete to see how many they can do and from how far. It's also great in my beginning classes, where they line up and try to return it. The serve can be done both the way shown in the video (tomahawk style) and forehand pendulum style, but I think you get more distance tomahawk style.

Dude Sets Guinness World Record for Hitting Ping Pong Balls with Nunchucks
Here's the article and video (40 sec). This looks legit - he's just hitting the balls off a robot, not rallying, unlike the infamous fake Bruce Lee Nunchuck Table Tennis video.

Jamie Oliver Channel 4 Ping Pong Table Tennis Commercial Advert Funny
Here's the video (58 sec) - it's from 2011, but I don't think I've seen it.

Cartoon Adam Bobrow's Excessive Ping Pong Celebration After Future Match
Here's the video (1:26) from Steve Worthington!

Table Tennis Trump Announces World Championships
Here's the video (5:15) from Larry Bavly! Warning - some Republicans might not like this! But you have to love the hat.

General Grievous Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:16) - and here's the original General Grievous!

Non-Table Tennis - Balticon
This weekend I'll be a panelist at the virtual Baltimore Science Fiction Convention. It's all online this year, as you can guess. I'm on two panels: "Write What You Know! Wait, What Do I Know?" (Friday 8PM) and " Dealing with Literary Rejection" (Saturday 5PM).

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May 11, 2020

Tip of the Week
Five Ways to Take Away an Opponent's Big Shot.

This is the 450th Tip of the Week I've posted since I started putting them up every Monday starting Jan. 11, 2011, except for a few times when I was out of town. (This is in addition to 177 I did for USA Table Tennis before that, which were published as part of Table Tennis Tales & Techniques.) The first 150 went into my book Table Tennis Tips; the next 150 went into More Table Tennis Tips; these last 150 (ending with today's) make up Still More Table Tennis Tips, which comes out on June 1. The advantage of getting them in book form? I put them in logical progression, by topic, rather than in a random fashion as a weekly tip, plus you get them all right in front of you, making it easy to browse, refer to, and even make notes in the margins. Or you can download them onto a kindle, and also have instant access in logical progression . . . though no margins to scribble in!

Ping Pong Playa
On Saturday night I finally watched Ping Pong Playa (96 min), the table tennis movie that came out in 2008 - somehow I missed it that year. Here's info on it from imdb.

The central character, Chris "C-Dub" Wang, is basically a self-centered airhead, perhaps 18-20 years old. He thought he was a basketball hotshot because he dominated in games against younger, smaller kids on a shortened basket that allowed him to dunk, though he wasn't so good against older, better players on a regular basket. His parents run a table tennis store, with his mom and older brother teaching a table tennis class. The brother was a table tennis champion, and by winning the local tournament each year, it brought them students. But he and his mom injure their wrists in a car accident and (for reasons that don't make sense) can't teach the class, and (also for unknown reasons - too busy at the store?), the father can't teach the class - so the self-centered basketball-playing brother takes over. He's a mess - he doesn't really teach, choosing instead to hustle the kids for money, who worship him as a hero. But he finally turns things around, and ends up training himself, where he has to win the local tournament to save their class. The players are actors with awkward strokes, with the ball put in by computer, as it was done in Forrest Gump.

I thought it was funny, though I'd have liked to have seen the table tennis training a bit more serious, and the trash-talking central character was a bit too much of an airhead for me, even after he supposedly turned things around. I was hoping the father, who was coaching Chris, would give some real tactical advice, like, "He has a good forehand, so serve short and low to his forehand to bring him over the table, and then attack his backhand." This would make sense even to non-table tennis players.

The Indian kid who can't play but reads about and analyzes everything? That was me at that age . . . and probably still is. Okay, I can play some.

A number of prominent table tennis players show up in the tournament scenes toward the end, including former US Team member Barney J. Reed (the lefty who, at one point, rallies with a racket in his pants), Diego Schaaf (often hitting with Barney), Adam Bobrow (now the Voice of the ITTF), Wei Wang (1990 US Women's Champion), Biba (the tournament committee woman on far left), and Ichiro Hashimoto (sitting in the stands).

Ping Pong Playa and Balls of Fury are the two top table tennis comedies - since we're stuck at home, why not watch both? Here are some other table tennis movies. Here's an article I wrote that was published in Fantasy Magazine back in 2009, The Table Tennis Fantasy Tour, which also talks about table tennis in movies and TV.

New from Samson Dubina

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

Multiball and Shadow-Practice Training
Here's the video (29 sec). 

Living Room Multiball
Here's the video (28 sec) - why don't you create this set-up? It only takes a box of balls and a blanket or sheet hung from the wall or ceiling! (Plus someone to feed the balls!)

Top 10 Serves
Here's the video (2:23) of Mishel Levinski. Here's his Youtube channel where you can see videos of many of his matches.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

USATT News

USATT Pong Positive Interviews
Here they are - 20 as of this posting. The latest are of Donna Sakai, Tahl Leibovitz, Nick Tio, Kai Zhang, Elna Garcia, and Jishan Liang.

USATT Minutes of the May 4, 2020 Board Meeting
Here they are, though there's no news on whether the Force was with them on that date. Here are all USATT minutes.

New from Steve Hopkins

JOOLA Medical
Here's the video (3:20). A Montgomery County Maryland company is turning the tables on their business plan to help citizens and hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Almost Essential Table Tennis Workers
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Instagram Live Takeover | Kanak Jha & Hugo Calderano
Here's the video (48:31) as the two chat on Instagram on various table tennis-related topics, including how coronavirus is affecting them.

ITTF News

New Record for Bouncing Ball on Paddle
Here's the video (5:21:30)! Dan bounces the ball for 5hrs 21 min 8 sec, breaking the old record of 5hrs 2min 37 sec. Here's where he misses!

Man Plays NBA Theme Song Using a Pingpong Ball, Pots, Pans and Determination
Here's the video (38 sec)!

Table Tennis's 10 Funniest Moments
Here's the video (7:21)!

Timo Boll - Top 3 Best Points - Lego Table Tennis Animation
Here's the video (2:02), with Adam Bobrow doing the play-by-play in the first and third points!

Shaun The Sheep Table Tennis
One of the best animated table tennis videos ever is the "Shaun the Sheep - Championsheeps" (see below). That came out in 2014. I just found out they did another one in 2018 - "Ping Pong Poacher"!

Pongfinity Game Battle
Here's the video (5:05) from Pongfinity!

Beetle Bailey - "I Won the Tournament!"
Here's the Beetle Bailey cartoon for May 9, 2020 (Saturday)! Here are all 27 Beetle Bailey cartoons that I know of that feature table tennis.

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May 4, 2020

NOTE - For technical reasons, the second half of the blog was cut off for most of Monday, May 4. The problem is now fixed. But if you were here earlier, you only saw about half of today's links. 

Tip of the Week
Don't Practice Hesitation.

USATT Coaches Excellence Program and Zoom
On Sunday, we had a USATT Coaches Meeting on Zoom from 4:00-5:15PM. Attending were Virginia Sung (USATT CEO), Sean O'Neill (USATT High Performance Director), Christian Lillieroos (USATT Coach Education Director), and the USATT Coaching Committee: Pieke Franssen (chair), Gao Jun, Dave Fullen, and myself (Larry Hodges). Stellan Bengtsson is also on the committee but was unable to attend.

The purpose was to go over the new USATT Coaches Excellence Program, which is being created by Christian, Sean, and Dave. There will be three tracks:

  • Club Levels 1 and 2
  • High Performance Levels 1 and 2
  • Para Levels 1 and 2

A key part will be continuing education. I'll be going over the program over the next few days to give my input. USATT will be going public with this soon. Much of the program will center on online training. It looks pretty promising!

I know that some of my key input will be:

  • Importance for those in the "High Performance" track to observe high-level training sessions, with top coaches, where they see all levels of development. You don't need to be a great player to be a great coach, but a primary advantage a great player has is that he's spent years in high-level training sessions, while a non-great player rarely has that opportunity. (So this is less of an issue with former top players who are becoming High Performance Coaches.) If you want to be a high-level coach, you have to find opportunities to do so, even if it means traveling somewhere to spend a week or so watching such sessions at a high-level center. If you want to learn how to develop an elite player, you can't just watch an elite player on video; you need to see how that player developed at each step, from beginning, intermediate, and advanced junior, and then elite player. (In theory, someone could video hundreds and hundreds of hours of such training and require coaches to watch it all, but I don't think that's really feasible or as effective - seeing it in person is a bit different, plus you can ask questions.)
  • Importance of training coaches how to recruit and retain players, and setting up a training program. There's no point in having great coaching knowledge if you don't have anyone to work with. This could be an optional thing, but it needs to be available. (I used to point out that it's better to have ten 1100 players coaching than one glorified National coach who is not.)

MDTTC Juniors and Zoom
So, what do table tennis kids do when they're stuck at home due to the pandemic? If you're MDTTC junior star and team captain Stephanie Zhang, you instigate Zoom training at home with the other MDTTC juniors and coaches! The players and coaches jumped on the idea, and they now do it twice a week. Most of the kids have tables at their houses, and can train with siblings or parents. (Stephanie, for example, practice with brother James, while brothers Stanley and Kurtus Hsu were together, and so on.) Others shadow-practice. I observed their session this past Saturday. There were 35-40 players on 29 screens, with each player having a video camera on them (presumably smart phones) so the coaches could watch and comment. Coaches Wang Qingliang and John Hsu oversaw it. John called out the drills - ones for those with tables and practice partners, and ones for those shadow-practicing. Wang and John would regularly call out instructions, encouragement, and admonishments, which they could all hear. It was kind of interesting having all those screens open on my monitor! At any time you can zoom in on one to see more closely what they are doing. (I may join in more actively later on.) 

Three Table Tennis Books Coming Out

  • Circa May 15: "Why Table Tennis? 10 Aspects of the Sport that Will Change Your Life. This book, by Samson Dubina and two of his Ohio junior stars, Jacob Boyd and Sarah Jalli, will come out in about a month or so. I'm the editor for it.
  • June 1: Still More Table Tennis Tips, by Larry Hodges. (Hey, that's me!) This is the third book in the series, following Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. It's 189 pages with 150 Tips from the last three years, organized in logical fashion, with seven chapters - Serve and Receive, Strokes, Footwork, Tactics, Improving, Sports Psychology, and Doubles. It'll be published on Monday, June 1. It'll be my 17th book, and my 9th on table tennis.
  • Circa July: Winning Table Tennis, by Dan Seemiller. This is a reprinting of Dan's instructional book from 1997. I've been working with another member of the writing community (the science fiction one, not the table tennis one!) to recreate the pages, since the original files were lost, other than the text.
  • Or read about Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper!

RIP Donglong "Derek" Hao
Just heard the bad news - Coach Hao died a few days ago. He was a coach and top player (rated 2531) from the Swan Warriors TTC in the Bay Area in California. He was only 28. No reason has been given for his death yet. A chopper/attacker, he played recently at the US Olympic Trials, where he was in the Final 16, and almost advanced to the Final Eight - he was to play Sharon Alguetti, with the winner advancing, but had to default due to a leg injury. Here's a Facebook note on it with three pictures. (Here are the non-Facebook versions - picture1, picture2, picture3.)

Open Against Half Long With FH
Here's the USATT article by Wang Qingliang.

Do You Want to Serve Like a Pro?
Here's the video (4:35) with Thomas Keinath.

How to Do Reverse Pendulum Serve Table Tennis
Here's the video (13:38) by Louis Levene.

BTY Training Tips featuring Shigang Yang: Forehand Flip With Multi-ball Training
Here's the video (1:20).

The Chop Block (The Most Neglected Shot in Table Tennis)
Here's the article and video (6:41) from Tom Lodziak, with Craig Bryant.

New from Emratthich/PingSunday

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

New from Samson Dubina

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here! (Note - for some technical reason, whenever I link directly to these videos, when I post my blog, everything from that entry on disappears! I have no idea. I've looked to see if there are any underlying characters that might cause this but can't find anything.)

Questions Answered at PingSkills
Here's their Q&A page. Post your own questions!

Professor Helps Olympic Table Tennis Team During COVID-19
Here's the article.

Player Watch: Jha on the move, an engagement and Pitchford's connection with the force?
Here's the ITTF article featuring USA's Kanak Jha.

New from Steve Hopkins

Heart to Heart with Anna: The Bionic Man of Table Tennis
Here's the podcast (34:17) featuring Navin Kumar.

Club Feature of the Week (9)- Sky High Table Tennis Club
Here's the USATT article.

Fifth Time's a Charm as Jorge Vanegas Successfully Becomes International Umpire
Here's the USATT article.

It Was Purely Physical?
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

China's Help in the Growth of Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (7:42).

New from the ITTF

King of Attack vs. King of Defense
Here's the video (15:39) - Ma Long vs. Joo Se Hyuk!

Story About Swedish Table Tennis from mid-1980's
Here's the video (12:50).

6 Weird Facts About Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:14) from Pongfinity.

Can You Make a Ping-Pong Table Disappear?
Here's the video (55 sec) from table tennis magician Leon Thomson!

Balloon Pong with Grandma
Here's the video (20 sec)!

Double-Hand Pong
Here's the video (21 sec)!

Top 10 Ping Pong Commercials
Here's the video (6:16)! I consider the Energizer one the best ever!

Legos Pong!
Here are two hilarious videos as the "Legos" version of the stars battle it out, with play-by-play by ITTF commentator Adam Bobrow!!!

May the 4th Be With You
Here is some Star Wars Pong!

Non-Table Tennis - Tooth Theology
My science fiction story, "Tooth Theology," just came out in the new issue of Galaxy's Edge. What if, in the distant future, most religions have died out, while worship of the Tooth Fairy - through her priestly Dentists - dominate the world?

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 27, 2020

Tip of the Week
Don’t Warm Up Your Opponent During a Match.

Developing Your Game at Different Ages
Suppose an 8-year-old, a 30-year-old, and a 60-year-old walk into your club, all beginners, and sign up for lessons. You'd likely start them off similarly, teaching the fundamentals. But something happens after a time - how you teach them begins to change quite a bit.

For the 8-year-old, you'd be teaching him "modern" table tennis - like, say, Ma Long. Once he has the fundamentals down pretty well, he'll likely be taught to stay pretty close to the table, loop from both sides, with feet mostly parallel to the table, even for forehands (except when forced off the table). He'll become a great counter-looper. He'll mostly serve seemingly simple short backspin/no-spin serves - third-ball attack serves - and follow them with loops. (He'll learn other variations, but they will be "surprise" serves, not his core serves that set up his third-ball attack.) He'll learn to attack short serves with backhand banana flips. And he'll be well on his way toward being an elite player, maybe a contender for the National Team or more!!!

Many coaches would teach the 30-year-old the same way, but that's probably a mistake. If he's a truly top-notch athlete, then perhaps you would teach him the same way. But in essentially every case, he's not ever going to be in contention to be a National Team Member. His goals are probably to be as good as he can be - perhaps someday a 2000-level player. For this player, you would likely teach him a bit different - more "old-school." He'll learn to loop the backhand against backspin, but in rallies, he's probably better off hitting and blocking aggressively. He probably should move the right foot (for righties) back some for forehands, and not try to jam the table when looping. He'll learn to counter-loop, but he'll pick and choose when to do so rather than trying to do it almost every time. He should learn to flip serves, but should probably focus more on pushing them back effectively. And while he should develop short backspin/no-spin serves, he'll develop a wider variety of serves, especially deep ones - serves that don't work as well at the higher levels, but can be completely dominant against 2000 players. 

Of course, you should check with the 30-year-old to see what his goals are. He may want to play like Ma Long, in which case you'd coach him the same as that 8-year-old. How about a 20-year-old? He's in between, and depending on his goals and fitness level, you might teach him like that 8-year-old.

How about the 60-year-old? Unless he's a super-athlete for his age, he's not going to learn to run around all over the place looping. To reach his potential, it might be better to develop a great blocking game, and perhaps a good smash. He should learn to forehand loop against backspin, but in rallies he should probably mostly hit the forehand. He'll develop the trickiest deep serves he can, though he should also learn to serve short. He might learn to backhand loop against backspin, but often he'll be better learning to push and hit. In fact, if his goal is to be as good as he can be, then (and some will gag at this!), very often he should go to long pips on the backhand, even early on. That's the dominant style at the older age groups, and there's a reason for it - the long pips is basically an "equalizer," allowing them to block an opponent's athletic loops and turn all of that topspin into backspin.

Of course, you should also check with the 60-year-old to see what his goals are. He may want to play like Ma Long - but unless he's in great shape, I wouldn't recommend that as he'd probably hurt himself! (Yeah, that type of game is pretty physical.) But he might want to play with "regular" rubber, rather than face the stigma some long-pips players get, or he might want to play more of a topspin game.

In the end, players have to decided what their goals are. I've considered using long pips on my backhand a few times, but I just prefer sticking with inverted, so I win or lose using roughly the same equipment as the large majority of my opponents - plus, as a coach, I'm a better practice partner this way, both in drills and games. (I'll proably rewrite the above as a Tip of the Week later on.) 

New Table Tennis Books

  • Why Table Tennis? 10 Aspects of the Sport that Will Change Your Life. This book, by Samson Dubina and two of his Ohio junior stars, Jacob Boyd and Sarah Jalli, will come out in about a month or so. I'm the editor for it, and was up late last night on it, which is why this week's blog went up a bit later than usual. I should finish editing it today or tomorrow, though they still have a lot of layout work to do.
  • Still More Table Tennis Tips - I finished the pages for this book yesterday, and sent it off to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor for final proofing, as they did for the first two books in the series, Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. It's 189 pages with 150 Tips from the last three years, organized in logical fashion, with seven chapters - Serve and Receive, Strokes, Footwork, Tactics, Improving, Sports Psychology, and Doubles. It'll be published on Monday, June 1.

A Table Tennis Coach Wants to Go to Georgia, Looking for a Barber Before His Hair Becomes Unreal...
It's probably a mistake that they are opening up this early in the pandemic . . . but I am sure tempted to drive down and get a haircut, see a movie, play some table tennis (since they are allowing gyms to open, TT clubs should be open), and then drive back to Maryland! It's only 660 miles to Atlanta, I can make it in ten hours! (Okay, I'm joking, but I am probably going to have to cut my hair with scissors this week, and I have no idea how it's going to come out.)

Let's Play Some Table Tennis Music While We're Stuck Inside!

Free Service Masterclass!
Here are the videos - ten of them on serving from Matt Hetherington. (See links on right.) 

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

New from EmRatThich

Table Tennis Tips: Practicing Finishing Shots
Here's the video (6:11) from Steve Emmons.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here! 

Robot that Feeds with Real Racket
Here's the video (15 sec). I hope we get these in the US soon! Convention robots are great in many ways, but the one thing you don't get when you train with them is the practice of reacting to a ball coming off a table tennis racket.

The World’s Smallest Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Alumni Spotlight: Michael Wang
Here's the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

Ping Pong, Walks and Mind Exercises: Brain-boosting habits of a renowned brain doctor during self-quarantine
Here's the article from CNBC.

New from USATT

USATT PongPositive Interviews
Here's the page. This week they interviewed Jishan Liang, Judy Hoarfrost, Zhou Xin, and Frank Caliendo (yes, the comedian, who is also a USATT member).

New from the ITTF
They've put up a lot this week! Much of it is their "Return to Budapest" articles reminiscing about the 2019 Worlds.

New from Steve Hopkins

How to Make a Table Tennis Ball Collector
Here's the video (2:08). Or you can just buy ones from Butterfly, JOOLA, or Paddle Palace.

Status of Table Tennis Clubs After the Epidemic is Over
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I'm guessing it's going to be even worse at barber shops.

Lily Smacks Ball Off Kanak's Head
Here's the video (9 sec)! Shall we call her Lily "William Tell" Zhang? Lily and the brave Kanak Jha are USA's top-ranked players, both ranked the same at #27 in the world in Women's and Men's.

Table Tennis - CLUB CHALLENGE - Hotshots vs HITT
Here's the video (7:39). "Hotshot Table Tennis (Jersey City, New Jersey) and HITT (Hoboken, New Jersey) duke it out in our "pass the ball challenge". Which club can pass the ball more? We challenge your club to beat either of our tallies! Forward on and keep our table tennis communities connected and thriving."

Serve Practice with Toddler Ball Recycler
Here's the video (25 sec)!

Meet the Spin Pros
Here's the video (58 sec)!

Trick Serve and Shot
Here's the video (17 sec)! I've done this trick before, but I do it with a forehand pendulum serve, so the ball curves the other way, and then I smack it with a forehand. Now I'm going to have to learn the opposite way so I can match this!

Table Tennis Trickshots - Solo Edition
Here's the video (1:27)!

River Pong
Here's the video (13 sec). Why spend money on a net when you can just stick a river there?

Crazy Diving Returns
Here's the video (21 sec)!

Over-the-Shoulder Counter-kill
Here's the video (33 sec) of this incredible shot!

Under-the-Legs Underhanded Sidespin Counter-Smash
Here's the video (15 sec) as Matt Hetherington against Lily Yip!

Backyard Improvised Chop Doubles and Exhibition
Here's the video (50 sec)! The lefty is 1993 World Men's Singles Champion Jean-Philippe Gatien. (Anyone know who the other player is? They also did the Relaxing Hammock Pong (32 sec) from two weeks ago.

Extended Ping-Pong
Here's the video (5:34) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 20, 2020

Tip of the Week
Sometimes Challenge an Opponent's Strength.

Quarantine Shadow Practice
Anyone who reads my blog and tips knows that I'm a big advocate of shadow practice - where you practice your strokes and footwork without a ball or table. And here we all are, stuck inside, unable to play real table tennis with a ball or table! This is the perfect time to get your racket out and practice your game.

Before we go further, here are five Tips of the Week where shadow practice is discussed:

For me personally, I've been shadow-stroking for two reasons. First, I do it about five minutes per day for exercise. (And so should you - but more than five minutes!) Second, and this is perhaps the more interesting one, I'm developing my backhand loop . . . finally. I've always had a very forehand-oriented game. My backhand was just for rallying - I could keep the ball going forever, but I didn't attack well with it. I can backhand loop decently in a drill, but in a match, I have two problems developing it.

Because I'm forehand oriented, anytime I see a ball I can attack, my natural, long-trained instinct is to use my forehand. So if someone pushes to my backhand, before the ball's barely left their racket I'm already stepping around, even now, at age 60. (How did that happen?) It's pretty much reflex - and I'm still pretty quick for that first step to my left. (These days, alas, I get punished on the next shot, to my wide forehand, which I no longer can move to cover like I used to.)

But there's another reason. I hit my regular backhand almost directly in front of me, right in front of my eyes. This gives me great consistency, but isn't so great for looping, where it's better to take it a little from the side. (Backhand looping directly in front also puts strain on the shoulder, and whenever I try backhand looping too much, I hurt my shoulder.) So guess what I'm doing? I'm shadow practicing my backhand loop, over and over, with the contact point almost a foot to the left of my normal contact point. By the time we're allowed to go back to clubs, it might be a habit - and finally, at this late age, maybe I'll be a two-winged looper!!!

You can shadow practice with any racket. However, I like to do it with this weighted paddle I bought at the 2001 Worlds in Osaka, Japan. You should both practice your strokes and your footwork. You can play entire games this way!

Table Tennis Books
The Tips above, and related issues, are mostly from three of my books: Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers; Table Tennis Tips; and More Table Tennis Tips. (See links at Books by Larry Hodges.) The tactics book has been the #1 selling table tennis book in the world for much of the last few years (for English). But you might want to read the two Tips books now - the third in the series, Still More Table Tennis Tips, comes out in late May! Here's the draft of the cover.

USATT Interviews Me and Others
Here's the video (15:51). Alas, the audio isn't great. I think the microphone on the headphones I was using didn't work, and so the audio is from the computer's regular microphone - but I didn't realize this until later. USATT has been doing a series of these "Pong Positive" interviews - others include Frank Caliendo, Will Shortz, Liu Juan, Kanak Jha, Tom Feng, Sharon Alguetti, Lily Zhang, Han Xiao, Eve Yen, Huijing Wang, and Jennifer Wu.

Tim and Sally Update
Tim Boggan (USATT Hall of Famer and 2006 USATT Lifetime Award Recipient) has been keeping me up to date on his wife, Sally. They've been married for 60 years. She had a stroke last August, and is totally paralyzed on one side, and unable to speak, and needs a feeding tube. Tim wrote, "For 7 and 1/2 months she's shown remarkable courage, and has functioned well enough to think, write, and give a thumbs-up or down response to questions. But now...more bad news. Almost 87, she's become a victim of the coronavirus sweeping Long Island, and on Apr. 14 was transferred from her nursing home to a local hospital." Tim also adds that he and Sally very much appreciate the support the TT community has shown them for almost eight months. Here's the USATT article on their GoFundMe page.

History of US Table Tennis
Tim Boggan's long-time labor of love has been his History of US Table Tennis series, now with 23 volumes. However, at this point he plans to soon stop distributing them personally, and rely on Amazon and possibly regular table tennis distributors to sell them. However, he has a number of volumes left which he wishes to sell first. Normal price is $40/volume, but he's selling the remaining copies for $30/volume. He has the following copies left. If interested, email Tim Boggan directly.

  • One left: Volumes 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20
  • Two left: Volumes 6, 8, 13, 14, 18
  • Three left: Volumes 4, 9
  • Four left: Volume 22

USATT Weekly Town Hall Meetings - Next One This Tuesday April 21, 7PM Eastern Time
***THAT'S TOMORROW***

USA Table Tennis to Host Weekly Virtual Town Hall Meeting With Club Owners and Administrators this Tuesday. That's pretty self-explanatory. I attended the first one last Monday and took some notes. The meeting, UberConference lasted about 50 minutes. (They are switching to Zoom for the one linked above.) The attendee counter fluctuated as people got on and off, with about 50 attendees most of the meeting, with a maximum of 52. (Afterwards, there was an official log that said there had been 74, so presumably that meant 74 total, but not at the same time.) Attendees were listed by state, and came from exactly 20: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, MA, MD, NC, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, RI, TN, TX, WI.

  • USATT CEO Virginia Sun opened with a message about the coronavirus and USATT efforts to deal with it.
  • USATT COO Mark Thompson introduced staff and board member Tara Profitt, who was on the call.
  • USATT HPD spoke about training at home, and what USATT team members are doing to train during this time. He gave out the TTTeamUSA link, which has numerous home training exercises.
  • Questions that came up included ones on insurance financial help and whether events could be run at the end of May if local health officials agree. The consensus seemed to be that following local guidelines should be okay in running events. There was also a question on unemployment benefits, and it was explained that while this is a federal program, it is administered by the states, so you should contact your state government on this.

The Longest Table Tennis Serve
Here's the video (1:47). I do this serve all the time in exhibitions and to entertain the kids in our beginning class, where they line up and try to return it. (It's got loads of sidespin and backspin, so they mostly miss.) Here's a video of me doing it in an exhibition, but my distance is limited by the wall where I'm serving from. I think you can get more distance overhead, with a tomahawk serve, as I do in the video, though I can do it both ways. (Scott Preiss also does this regularly in his table tennis exhibitions.) It's really a matter of arm strength and technique - with some practice, any top player can do this serve. I'm pretty sure I can match the one in this video, or at least come close, but I'm betting some of the top table tennis athletes in the world can do it from even farther, especially if he's big and strong. Who do you think could do this from the farthest away?

New from USATT

New from the ITTF

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

New from Table Tennis Academy

Training Tips: Jorg Bitzigeio Footwork Drills Video
Here's the article and video (2:09).

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

New from Steve Hopkins

The Sticky Stuff
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

National Collegiate Table Tennis April Newsletter
Here it is.

From Near-Extinction to the National Championships: How U.Va. Club Table Tennis Rebuilt Their Team
Here's the article.

Table Tennis World Ranking Men
Here's a video (3:43) from EmRatThich that graphically shows the top 13 men in the world as the rankings changed from January, 2018 to present.

Pongfinity Match Highlights 6
Here's the video (4:20)!

T-Rex Playing Table Tennis Filter Mask
Here it is!

Coronavirus Pong: Trump vs. Xi Jinping
Here's the cartoon. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I don't think USA is going to beat China at this game.

Epic Rap Battle Table Tennis - Ma Long vs Tomokazu Harimoto
Here's the video (5 min) from EmRatThich!

Super Skill! Double-Opposite Bounce
Here's the video (31 sec) of Eli Baraty!

Card Pong
Here's the video (4 sec)!

Quarantine Solo Pong
Here's the video (12 sec) of Khaleel Asgarali - but (sorry Khaleel) the one-piece suit might make them forget about the Obama tan suit!

Mom and Son Sink Incredible Ping Pong Ball Trick Shot
Here's the video (61 sec)!

The Great Gronk is a Beast with a Paddle...or Two!
Here's the video (11 sec)!

Kulpong Ball on the Road Around the World
Here's the video (3:20) - lots of quarantine pong!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 13, 2020

Tip of the Week
The Grinding Mentality - How to Play It and Against It.

Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt
My book on this is out!!! Some of you may remember I did a seven-week tour of Europe and Egypt last Fall, Aug. 13 - Sept. 28. It wasn't a table tennis tour, though table tennis came up a number of times. I visited ITTF Headquarters in Switzerland (there's a picture of me there), wore my "T-Rex Playing Table Tennis" hat everywhere, found some TT places in Berlin, and was recognized by a table tennis player at Stonehenge. 

The full title is, "Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper." There's a lot of humor, including my often futile search for Dr Pepper in Europe. The book is 180 pages, with 253 pictures, in full color.

I saw Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, Normandy Beaches, the Louvre and the Mona Lisa, Catacombs of Paris, Palace of Versailles, Eiffel Tower, the Alps, Venice, Florence, Siena, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Ancient Rome and Greece, the Sistine Chapel, Pompeii, Checkpoint Charlie, Auschwitz, Great Pyramids, Great Sphinx, and countless other sites, including a plethora of ancient castles, cathedrals, and more museums than I knew existed.

I visited Portugal, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City (yeah, that’s a country), Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, and Egypt.

I toured Lisbon, Dublin, London, Paris, Lausanne, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Siena, Rome, Vatican City, Pompeii, Naples, Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Athens, and Cairo.

I walked the beaches of Normandy, Lake Geneva, and the Mediterranean, the banks of the rivers Liffey, Thames, Seine, Arno, Tiber, Spree, and Nile, and the Grand Canal in Venice.

And took a camel ride around the Great Pyramid! So why not come and share my adventures?

The downside is that full color is expensive. I created the book with KDP, a subsidiary of Amazon, and according to the automatic rules at Amazon, the cheapest price I could sell it for was $21.42. So I went with $21.50. Until now, all my books have been color on the covers, but black and white on the inside. I toyed with doing a black and white version, but the pictures are so much of this that, without the color, you don't get the real picture. So I decided to stick with all color. There's also no kindle version - just way too time-consuming to create one with this many pictures.

NOTE - Yeah, this makes three books in two weeks - two weeks ago I announced publication of two others books, Still More Pings and Pongs and Trump Tales: A Taunting. In late May I will have still another, my 17th book, and this time it's pure table tennis: Still More Table Tennis Tips. I've been busy.

USA Table Tennis High Performance Committee
At last week's USATT board meeting (see below), they created the High Performance Committee (HPC), which is in charge of general policy toward developing players in the US. (They work with the High Performance Director and top coaches from around the US.) The new members are: Bruce Liu (chair), Khoa Nguyen, Jim Butler, Amy Feng, Angela Guan. This is an illustrious group. (And note that this is all volunteer - they do not get paid.)

However, when I saw it, I did a doubletake. Individually, they are all highly qualified. Khoa, Jim, and Amy are Olympians, and they and Angela were all members of the USA World Team. Jim won Men's Singles at the Nationals four times. Bruce has been instrumental in the development of table tennis in the Bay Area in California. So why the doubletake?

None of them are USATT certified coaches. While all have undoubtedly done some coaching, I think Amy Feng is the only one that might be considered a professional coach - I believe she coaches at the EC Sports club in Marietta, Georgia, which is a joint table tennis-fencing club.

My general thoughts on putting together a High Performance Committee is that it should be made up first of high-level coaches and elite players. The purpose of an HPC is to develop elite players, and isn't that what high-level coaches are experts at?

Again, these members are individually highly qualified. It's just that the committee is lopsided. It's like putting together a baseball team where you bring in 25 great sluggers, and then realize you didn't bring in any pitchers. (It's also quite possible that some high-level coaches were asked, but turned it down. But there must be others.)

I think Bruce, the chair, will work hard to do a good job - I know him well and we've worked together many times, including at the recent USA Olympic Trials, where I wrote the articles and he took pictures. But one potential problem - as some might have noticed, over the last few years, USATT was sort of split between two groups. Roughly speaking, one group supported former High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio (who resigned last September) and his policies, and generally supported USA Teams with a balance between Trials and Selections (using selections to make sure we sent our best players, not just who played best at the Trials, plus taking doubles into consideration). The other group did not support Joerg (or more specifically, his policies), and wanted to minimize Selections, since they can be subjective and sometimes unfair. Bruce was one of the leaders of the latter group, and as I jokingly told someone, making him chair will make a few heads explode!

But hopefully he and the rest of the HPC will do a great job for USA Table Tennis, working with the new HPD Sean O'Neill (a staff position). Sean is a USATT Certified National Coach (highest level) as well as an Olympian and five-time US National Men's Champion. They have over a year to prepare USA for the now-2021 Olympics, so if we don't win gold, they are all out, right? :)

But I really hope they will consider expanding the HPC to seven and adding a couple of high-level coaches who can bring a wealth of coaching experience and expertise. (No, I'm not volunteering.) (Side note - I was told the HPC may also have sub-committees.)

USATT Board Meeting
Here are the minutes of the USA Table Tennis Board meeting held on April 6, last Monday night. It was a virtual meeting, which anyone could attend either online or by phone via Uberconference. Only board members and staff could speak, though you could request to speak on something, and if the board chair allowed it, you were given voice. I did this one time. There were exactly 20 people attending. Some highlights from my notes:

  • USA Nationals postponed - surprise! - see segment below under USATT News.
  • There's a new USATT coaching certification program being developed. 
  • The upcoming USATT election is postponed "until it is safe," due to coronavirus, since some candidates have to get signatures to be eligible. This is where I spoke up, suggesting they waive the signature requirement this year, since most years only a few apply. Unless you get a large number, just this one time, under extraordinary circumstances, they could waive the signature requirement and see how many apply. If too many, then postpone the election. 
  • The approved the chairs and members of three committees: High Performance, Nominating and Governance, and Ethics and Grievance. 
  • The meeting finished with a closed session, where they discuss personnel or legal matters.

The Critical Difference Between a Table Tennis Player and a Table Tennis Athlete
Here's the article from Matt Hetherington.

New from Samson Dubina

Coping with Covid-19 from a Psychotherapist's Perspective
Here's the article by Tahl Leibovitz.

New from EmRatThich

New from eBaTT

The Backhand Punch
Here's the video (1:35) from Rory Scott.

Table Tennis at Home
Here's the article and videos (six of them) from Tom Lodziak.

Table Tennis Footwork Exercises You Can Do at Home Right Now!
Here's the video (8:11) from Louis Levene.

Aerobic TT at Home with Steve Rowe
(Numbers 1-4 were in last week's blog.)

Table Tennis Daily Academy
Here's an excellent site, both for informative articles and videos as well as for their online courses.

Where Medicine Stops
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USATT

Pong Positive Interview Series
Here's the page, with new video interviews going up every day or so, all about 9-18 minutes. Current ones include Kanak Jha, Tom Feng, Sharon Alguetti, Lily Zhang, Han Xiao, Eve Yen, Huijing Wang, and Jennifer Wu. They also taped one with me that should go up soon.

Rockville Man’s Ping Pong Company Making Masks for Health Care Workers
Here's the video (1:44) from NBC News, featuring Richard Lee and JOOLA USA, which has revamped its local office into a mask-making facility. Here's JoolaMedical, where you can buy them - it's a new branch of JOOLA.

Mouse Traps and Ping Pong Balls to Show Powerful Message: 'Social Distancing Works'
Here's the video (30 sec). "The Ohio Department of Health has a powerful message for the public: Social distancing works. The agency tweeted a video illustrating a demonstration of chain reactions using ping pong balls and mouse traps to get its point across as people nationwide are urged to practice social distancing in an effort to battle the spread of COVID-19."

A Message from the ITTF CEO
Here's the letter. See item #3 especially, where there's a proposal to do away with individual (singles and doubles) events at the World Championships (make them Teams only), and instead have 3 to 4 "Grand Smashes" per year. I don't think this is a good idea - a huge part of any sport is its history, and this would be like football doing away with the Superbowl or baseball the World Series.

New from the ITTF

High-Level Looping Dining Room Pong
Here's the video (35 sec)!

Target Practice - Cup and Rolling Tape
Here's the video (12 sec)!

Make a Table at Home
Here's the video (24 sec)!

Multi-Layered, Multi-Tables, Multi-Dimensional Pong
Here's the video (42 sec)!

Zhang Jike Free Style 2020
Here's the video (3:52) from Zhang Jike, the 2011 and 2013 World Men's Singles Champion. Now 32, I've heard rumors of a comeback!

Relaxing Hammock Pong
Here's the video (32 sec)! The lefty in the hammock is Jean-Philippe Gatien, 1993 World Men's Singles Champion.

Ten Seconds of Weird Table Tennis
Here's the video (link should take you to 2:06 of this long and strange animated movie)!

Multi-Level and Floor Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:04) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 6, 2020

Tip of the Week
Analyze an Unorthodox Style from the Opponent's Point of View.

The First Pong
Here it is! It's my contribution to World Table Tennis At Home Day (see segment below), with apologies to Leonardo da Vinci, Umpire Jesus, and Biblical table tennis stars Bartholomew and Simon. (Here's the original.)

Coaches Training and Certification
The ITTF is revising its coaching accreditation system. (See segment below.) It's been rather successful in terms of numbers, with over 650 courses taught since it started in 2004, and over 6000 coaches certified, including me. (I also certified 14 coaches when I taught one of their courses.) I've blogged before about several problems with the system, from my experience in going through the first two levels and teaching the first level. I think it's a potentially great system, but there are at least three things that need to be fixed, and that should be addressed in any future system.

First, the English version of the advanced training manual is poorly written and edited. I'm not sure how much of this is from the original or the translation, but there are parts that leave you scratching your head. I think the content itself, once you figure out what is being said, is generally good.

Second, it's written for a coach teaching in a school setting, when the large majority of serious table tennis coaching takes place in clubs. It's very different. When I approached ITTF long ago and asked if I could make some adjustments, so as to focus more on coaching in a club, I was told not to make any changes, stick to the program as listed. That's a primary reason why, after teaching one course, I stopped doing it. In the course I taught, I discussed this problem with the players, and they all agreed I should focus more on club-based coaching. And so I sort of did that, trying to do that and still do all that was in the ITTF course. But I didn't feel comfortable doing this essentially in secret, and so decided not to teach any more of them.  (If I got started writing about the differences between school-based and club-based coaching, that would be a blog by itself. Setting up and running such a program in club is very different than one where you essentially are teaching a PE class to recreational players that you don't have to recruit. Teaching a PE class is very different than teaching, say, Little League Baseball or the equivalence in other sports.)

Third, there was seemingly no Chinese input into the courses, which meant some took it less seriously - and with Chinese input, what and how things are taught might have been different. China is both the strongest table tennis country and the biggest market, so we need them involved. China never adopted the ITTF system. They need buy-in from the biggest table tennis countries - China, Japan, Korea, and Germany in particular, not to mention countries like England and Sweden and others.

Besides the ITTF revamping their coaching accreditation system, USATT is doing so as well - in fact, they've been working toward doing so for a number of years. In January, 2018, during my second tenure as USATT Coaching Chair, I flew out to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to meet with then-High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio and a number of USOC officials about setting up a new USATT Coaching Certification Program. (Here's my blog on this.) We did put some time into this, and afterwards Joerg took the lead. Alas, after he resigned last year, that particular program came to an end. But I've heard they are looking into creating such a system again.

Some quick history of the USATT Certification Program. The current system is basically the version of the one I set up in my first tenure as Coaching Chair, 1990-95. However, the situation in the US has dramatically changed since that time - back then, there were essentially no full-time training facilities or full-time coaches. Now we have over one hundred full-time clubs and hundreds of full-time coaches. So the system I set up was pretty good for back then, but like a Model T Ford these days. (I wrote about this in the blog I linked to above.)

I've toyed with getting involved again in setting up an updated USATT (or ITTF) coaching system, but I think I'll let others have their turn. For one thing, I'm way too busy these days to take on something major like that. For another, there must be plenty of others who can do this - it's their turn! (I'm still on the USATT coaching committee, but I chose not to continue as chair about a year ago, when my term ended.)

There are some things anyone setting up such a system should be careful of. Keep in mind that, these days, with more resources, the goal isn't just a Coaching Certification program - the goal is a Coaching Training and Certification program. So such a program is two-fold. Here is a short list of things to consider in setting up such a program.

  1. Make sure to have Chinese table tennis involvement. It both brings in expertise and buy-in from coaches, where the majority are Chinese. It would also be helpful to get involvement and buy-in from other major table tennis countries, such as Japan, Korea, Germany, and others from Europe, with apologies to those not listed.
  2. Don't get stuck trying to teach all sorts of little things that rarely come up in actual coaching. It's very easy to get stuck where half of the material taught covered maybe 1% of what's actually used in a coaching program, so you had to cover the other 99% in the other half. I really and truly don't need to know about mitochondria to be a top coach! The problem is that it might take as much time to master that 1% as the other 99%, meaning it's far more efficient to focus on the 99%, and become generalists on the 1%, where you can bring in a specialist when needed - or, simply by coaching and learning for many years, you might pick it up on your own. The 1% might sometimes be important, but not if it comes at the expense of the 99%, and should become a focus only at the highest levels of coaching, after the 99% is mastered. 
  3. Make sure the program matches what is needed. That means mostly training coaches for coaching in professional clubs. It might also be helpful to train the coaches on how to set up a professional club where they can coach - the more of those the better.
  4. In this day and age, we can do a lot of coaches training with video, including using Skype, Zoom, or similar programs. However, as it moves up to the higher levels, more of it needs to be more in person. Sometimes the biggest weakness of developing coaches (excluding top players who become coaches) is lack of experience in an elite training environment. Watching top players on video is very helpful, but doesn't replace watching them in training as they develop into top players. So any coaches training program should include requiring coaches to observe such training, if they don't already have a strong background in that. (You don't need to be a top player to be a top coach - though it's helpful. But what you do need is a huge amount of time observing training programs, where you see how top players are developed. The problem is that, unless you were a top player in one of these programs, it's rare for a non-elite player to get that needed experience. But some make the effort and become excellent coaches as a result.)
  5. Make sure any manuals are well-written and user-friendly!

ITTF Coach Accreditation System Revision
Here's the info page. This came out a while ago, but I'm not sure where it stands right now. (I don't see any updates in the ITTF Coaching Development page.) It says that project delivery was due on Dec. 16, 2019, which means they must be well into this now. They are, or were, looking to revise or change the current coaching accreditation system. There was a time when I'd have jumped into this, but it's time for The Next Generation to work these things out. One thing that jumped out at me that raised alarms is where it says, "Administer and supervise the translation of the complete material into French, Spanish and Arabic." Since the original would presumably be in English, this means they are not emphasizing Chinese, not to mention Japanese, Korean, and German, which are the languages of the biggest table tennis countries in the world. Without buy-in from those countries, they are looking at a very uphill struggle.

High Quality Face Masks
Here's JoolaMedical, where you can buy them - it's a new branch of JOOLA. Just Say No to Corono[virus]! The two speaking in the video are siblings Richard (owner of JOOLA) and Dr. Vivian Lee. Both were former US National junior champions.

USATT Teleconference
Here's the USATT Agenda and Notices page, which includes a link to the agenda and dialing info for the USATT Teleconference tonight (Monday at 8PM Eastern Time). Any USATT member is allowed to listen in. On the agenda:

  1. CEO Report
  2. USOPC update
  3. Audit committee report
  4. Payroll Protection Program under the CARES Act
  5. New 2020 SafeSport Code revisions
  6. Delay of USATT Permanent Board Election due to Coronavirus
  7. Appoint Nominating and Governance Committee member
  8. Appoint High Performance Committee members
  9. Appoint Ethics and Governance Committee members

Celebrating 2020 World Table Tennis At Home Day!
Here's the ITTF article. It links to this Incredible Video (5:46), "World's Longest Rally Ever," where a huge number of players make "returns" with anything from a banana to a light saber - you have to see this one! Make sure to watch the name and country listed underneath for each player - see how many you recognize! (There's a smattering of top players mixed in, from Kanak Jha to Zhang Jike, with Ma Long starting it off.) 

World Table Tennis at Home Day Contest!
Here's the USATT info page. "With the majority of people staying indoors due to the world-wide pandemic of COVID-19 and practicing social distancing, World Table Tennis Day on April 6th, 2020 will be transformed to World Table Tennis at Home Day 2020!"

New from Matt Hetherington

New from Samson Dubina

New from Table Tennis Daily Academy

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

The Tomahawk Serve (And Why You Should Learn It)
Here's the article by Alex Horscroft at Expert Table Tennis.

The Last Word On Anti Spin Rubber
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Improve Your Attitude
Here's the article by John Hsu.

Table Tennis at Home
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

How Many Levels in Table Tennis
Here's the article from PingSunday.

Top Ten Mistakes in Table Tennis
Here's the video (19:15) from EmRatThich.

Backspin Comeback Push Practice
Here's the video (26 sec)!

Amicus Training Tips with Richard Prause

Aerobic TT at Home with Steve Rowe

Table Tennis in the Time of Coronavirus
Here's the podcast (49:45), Episode #12 from Table Tennis Talk. "...we discuss the impacts to the table tennis world from the coronavirus pandemic. We also cover the Hungarian Open, Qatar Open, and the US Olympic Trials. Also a T-League Update, Joey's Coaching Corner, and a documental Weird World of Table Tennis!"

Online Table Tennis Workout
Here's the page, from Tom Lodziak. "During April and May, I will be running daily group table tennis workout sessions, via an online video stream.  We will do a mixture of aerobic exercises and shadow play to improve your table tennis footwork, fitness and technique. Each session will be 30 minutes of high energy table tennis fun! No fitness equipment needed, although you can bring your table tennis bat if you want. Watch the video at the top of the page to get a visual idea of what to expect."

Quarantine Ping Pong Challenge
Here's the video (2:44) from PingSkills.

Aerobic Table Tennis
Here's the page, where they will be doing daily table tennis aerobic exercises. "From 1 April 2020, Aerobic TT will be available for you to view in your own home. It’s for both children and adults, it will be a fun and exciting way to keep fit indoors. Fun and fitness along with bat and ball skills."

Play at Home Ping Pong Shadow Training Challenge (Covid Free!)
Here's the video (19:07) from Wally Green. 

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel

New from USATT

New from ITTF - They've Been Busy!

New from Steve Hopkins

Betting on Ping-Pong? Really?
Here's the article. "The coronavirus is a sports gambler’s nightmare."

Message from Timo Boll on Coronavirus
Here's the video (72 sec).

Training Little Girl on Mini-Table with Ball Prop
Here's the video (60 sec). It sounds funny, but it's actually pretty effective training!

Happy World Table Tennis Day from the Dubinas
Here's the video (60 sec)!

Best Rally
I still consider this rally (41 sec) to be the best rally of the past year.

Who is the Real GOAT? Ma Long vs J.O Waldner
Here's the video (12:42).

Smart & Genius Plays in Table Tennis- IQ 300+ (Creative Moments)
Here's the video (5:54)!

Table Tennis Funny: Balls of Fury
Here's the video (5:54) from Malong Fanmade Channel! It's a compilation of the best table tennis scenes from the 2007 comedy movie Balls of Fury. Now that you have lots of time on your hands (hi coronavirus!), now's the time to watch or rewatch it! It's available on Youtube, iTunes, Google Play Movies, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

Funny Match, France vs. Philippines
Here's the video (4:17)!

Houston Rockets Mascot Pong
Here's the video (57 sec) as two of them go at it - and one is pretty good with his tricks! (Why in the Great Loops of Pong does a basketball team called the Rockets have a bear as its mascot?)

Passionate About Table Tennis - Living Room Double-Table Pong 
Here's the video (25 sec)! At the end, I'm told they are saying (in Spanish), "Table Tennis, we are passionate about, gives you worldwide energy, play with the family, STAY HOME!" That's Juan Antonio Vila Reinoso, past president of ULTM and a table tennis legend in the Caribbean, with his family. (ULTM is the Unión Latinoamericana de Tenis de Mesa, i.e. Latin American Table Tennis Union.)

The Best Improvised Mini-Table Rally Ever?
Here's the video (68 sec)! The two kids are brothers from England.

Spectacular Kitchen Pong
Here's the video (1:38) of some of the best "kitchen" rallies I've ever seen!

More Living Room Pong
Here's the video (14 sec)!

Pong Dominoes
Here's the video (23 sec)!

Amazing Trick Shots
Here's the video (58 sec)!

Skills To Learn During Lockdown
Here's the video (4:38) from Pongfinity! And there are some really good ball-control skills taught here.

Non-Table Tennis - Reviews of "Blood Wars" and My Two New Books
Two reviews have now come out for my story, "Blood Wars," which came out last month in Galaxy's Edge. It's my first vampire story! But it's really a satire about corporate America.

"Blood Wars" by Larry Hodges is a fantasy set in an alternative reality where vampires rule the world. The narrator is a board-level vampire executive in a blood producing company whose evil-tempered chairman and proprietor is Dracula. The concept of a reality where humans are farm animals, securely caged and regularly bled to supply their vampire owners may appear to be repugnant, but the tongue-in-cheek style of writing converts it from a potential horror story into a light-hearted poke at Corporate America. Tangentonline

In a world run by vampires, the best-selling drink is Dracu-Blood, owned by the old Count himself. But their chief competitor, Vampu-Blood, is catching up. What to do? Our narrator, who is CEO, comes up with an idea. Hilarious with a great pay-off! SFRevu

And perhaps consider buying a copy of one of my two new books that came out last week:

  • Still More Pings and Pongs, 192 pages. This is a collection of the best 25 science fiction & fantasy stories I've sold from 2016-2020. It is the third in the series, after Pings and Pongs and More Pings and Pongs. Alas, table tennis only shows up sporadically in these stories!
  • Trump Tales: A Taunting, 112 pages. This includes 11 SF & Fantasy stories I've written that satirize Trump, seven of them previously published, four new. If you are, somehow, a Trump fan, stay away! 

***
Send us your own coaching news!

March 30, 2020

Tip of the Week
Tactics at the End of a Close Game.

Larry Hodges TT Academy Opens on Wednesday - Only Coronavirus-Safe Center in the World
=>(EDIT - After two days of fun, I've added certain bolds below.)
And now it can be told! This Wednesday I will be opening the Larry Hodges TT Academy. Its
purpose is to allow players from around the world to train during these pandemic times. I've
reached out to countries all over the world, and starting Wednesday, the national teams from
Italy, Germany, China, Japan, Korea, Vatican City, Canada, and USA will start training at the
Larry Hodges TT Academy. It's the only truly safe place in the world for them to do so.

For health purposes, there will be a number of rules followed. Players must always maintain an
obligatory nine-foot separation, the length of a ping-pong table. There will be a cleaning service
on hand at all times, constantly cleaning the tables and balls with Mr. Clean's new coronavirus
liquid sanitizer. Players will wear gloves and masks at all times while playing. We will stress
safety at all times. Instead of handshakes or fist bumps, we will do paddle high-fives.

A serious problem is that the coronavirus permeates a table tennis sponge. For this reason,
players will only use hardbat or sandpaper. The ITTF has approved this drastic measure for
rackets, and for the next six months those are the only approved racket surfaces to be used
in ITTF tournaments. Many of the best players in the world, including Fan Zhendong, Ma
Long, Timo Boll, and others have already made the switch.

Fan said, "I grew up reading Larry's articles. Training with him will be a dream come true. If
only he lived in China!" USA Champion Kanak Jha added, "I can't wait to resume training - I'm
on a red-eye flight tonight. I can't wait to try out the new hardbat Larry recommends!" "Without
Larry, where would we train?" asked 11-time Vatican City Women's Champ Paril Sofol. Some,
such as World Ping-Pong Champ Andrew Baggaley, have already arrived and started training.

Coronavirus and Table Tennis, and Other News

  • Coronavirus and Table Tennis. Everything is closed, clubs are closed, tournaments cancelled, but dogs everywhere are confused but very happy. But I've gotten a lot done - I finally had time to finalize two new books, with two more coming, plus lots of other articles, tips, and short stories.
  • US Nationals. You should be receiving news soon on its status - whether it'll be run as scheduled in July or postponed. (The latter is more likely.) If postponed, then USATT has some difficult decisions to make. Should they run it in December, and cancel the US Open? Run the Nationals and Open back-to-back or in conjunction? Or find some other time this Fall to run the Nationals? Stay tuned!!! (If news comes out, I'll add it here later.)
  • New Books. I have two new books that just came out this weekend, "Still More Pings and Pongs" and "Trump Tales: A Taunting." These are non-table tennis, so see segment at end of blog. In late April I will have another book coming out, "Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt" (231 pages, 251 pictures, I'm currently proofing it), about my seven weeks there last Fall, with limited table tennis. In May I'll have still another book coming out - and this one's table tennis! - "Still More Table Tennis Tips," ~200 pages, third in the series that includes Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. Yes, I've been busy during this pandemic!
  • Spoken English and Messages. I may soon forget spoken English. In the last ten days, until yesterday, I had just one short (five-minute) phone call, a few hearty discussions at a Wendy's drive-through ("extra onions, please"), and that's it. Yesterday I had a weird experience shopping at Giant, where I had invigorating disagreements with a guy preaching outside (blaming coronavirus on gays and lesbians), and with a cashier who didn't quite understand what six feet means. Here's my Facebook posting on this. I do get lots of emails and other messages, though some of them are rather weird and/or irritating. It seems everyone in the world has something they need me to watch or read, and if I watched and read all that people send me, that's all I'd do. Some take it rather personally when I don't. Some are even insulting. I also get many dozens of emails/messages each week which are basically from someone who just wants to say "Hi" or "Hey, what's up?" and exchange small talk, which I'm not really into. It means I have to either A) sit there and go through all the small talk until it's done, with me mentally tapping my foot, or B) try to work on something else, where every minute or two my thoughts are interrupted. (I have no problem with actual questions.)
  • Physical Training. My daily training involves five minutes of shadow-stroking with a weighted ping-pong paddle, and 23 hours 55 minutes of mostly writing, editing, reading, or watching something on TV or my computer. I do go for occasional walks outside. However, this morning Maryland Governor Hogan announced that, as of 8PM tonight (Monday, March 30), no one is allowed to leave their homes except for food or medicine. So I guess that means going for walks or jogging is out!

Breaking News - Tokyo Olympic, Paralympic Games Awarded New Start Dates: July 23 And Aug. 24 Of 2021
Here's the article.

New from Matt Hetherington
Some people, when faced with spending weeks indoors, alone and isolated from the world, turn into couch potatoes and watch the latest thing from Netflix or HBO. Matt? He's taken to doing daily table tennis coaching videos!

New from Samson Dubina

  • Skype Lessons - " As a service to the table tennis community, I'm going to be doing some FREE Facebook Live Q & A sessions as well as offering discounted skype lessons!  Want to join us for the facebook live?  ...join us every Monday at 1pm Eastern Time through the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy Page!  Want personalized coaching?  Try out a SKYPE!"
  • Fitness Friday (16:38)
  • 10 Ways to Perfect Your Serve
  • 11 Ways To Improve at HOME

Daily Table Tennis Workout with Eli Baraty
Here's his Youtube page - they start TODAY at 6PM UK Time (1PM US Eastern Time)

Dora Kurimay
She's a Sports Psychologist, or more formally, a Mental Performance Consultant. She's also a professional table tennis coach and former professional player!

Attitude is Everything
Here's the article by John Hsu.

Forehand Short Push | Return Backspin Serve
Here's the video (4:28) from the Malong Fanmade Channel.

Table Tennis at Home
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak, with links to video.

New from eBaTT

Exploring the Tomahawk Serve
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

USATT Interviews

USATT Club Features

Jenson Van Emburgh Emphasizes Positivity and Friendship Midst these Times of Uncertainty
Here's the USATT article by Michael Reff.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from the ITTF

New from PingSunday

How Many Athletes Just Lost Their Shot At Olympic Glory?
Here's the article from FiveThirtyEight.com. It turns out that table tennis has one of the highest rates of returnees.

Flatten the Coronavirus Curve - Ping-Pong Style
Here's the image! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Apparently, we need less lobbing and more looping!

2020 World Table Tennis At Home Day!
Here's the ITTF Info Page. "In light of the global spread of COVID-19, World Table Tennis Day – the annual celebration of the sport, taking place on 6th April 2020 – will be taking on a very different form to previous years. Instead of the traditional social gatherings, casual table tennis activities and charity events taking place around the world, this time people will be engaged in the sport like never before via special initiatives planned on social media."
 ...
"The longest rally in history?! Create history and contribute to the longest table tennis rally! In true World Table Tennis Day spirit, anyone can take part! All you need to do is respond to this social media teaser by sending in your video of hitting a table tennis ball. One hit is enough, but be creative! You can use any random objects that you can find around the house to hit the ball, or why not perform a trickshot! Whether you’re in your bedroom, the kitchen, living area, garden, garage, or even outside, you can film your video from anywhere! The craziest, funniest video clips will be combined to create the longest ever rally online, which will be published on ITTF and ITTF Foundation social media channels on 6th April 2020."

Table Tennis Sports Betting Taking Over
Here's an article from Trib Live, Online Sports Bettors Turn to Pingpong as Leagues Postpone Seasons. "For bettors in Pennsylvania, that left pingpong, known professionally as table tennis, and Australian rules football." ... "Table tennis also dominated bets cast through that app, accounting for 79% of the total sports betting handle Sunday, the statement said."

Here's an article from ESPN about how, with casinos closing and sports events cancelled, they are starting to bet on table tennis. "U.S. sportsbook have begun offering odds on table tennis and sumo wrestling, among other sporting events. In Pennsylvania, online sportsbook BetRivers.com reported the TT Cup Men's Singles table tennis tournament was the most-heavily bet event offered Sunday."

Here's a Pennsylvania page where they are gambling on Men's Singles events in Russia! As explained in an email to me by Ron Klinger, "In case you are not familiar with betting terminology, if it's a negative number, you have to bet that amount to win $100. If it's positive, you need to bet $100 to win that amount. So for example, if it's -148, you have to bet $148 to win $100. If it's +105, you have to bet $100 to win $105. What's interesting about this is that they also have "in-game" betting odds, so you will notice that for the games currently being played, the odds change with each point that is scored!"

1960 Junior Table Tennis and 1959 Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (4:38). It's hard to believe that those kids are now sixty years older.

Crazy Table Tennis - Sharon Alguetti
Here's the video (8:12).

Houston TTA
Here's their new feature video (1:55).

Wang Chen's Physical Training with Son
US (and formerly Chinese) table tennis star Wang Cheng has adjusted nicely to training at home during these pandemic times. Here are a series of videos where she does her physical training with her son!

Kevin Hart and Keegan Michael-Key Do Multiball Training with Matt Hetherington and Nikhail Kumar
Here's the video (15 min, but link should take you to 11:32, where they do table tennis for three minutes).

Nandan Naresh Shows Off His Ball-Bouncing Skills
Here's the video (15 sec)!

New from Pongfinity

River Pong
Here's the video (13 sec)!

Four-Chair Footwork Pong
Here’s the video (37 sec)!

Living Room Pot Pong
Here's the video (44 sec) to music!

Mini-Table Dog Pong
Here's the video (39 sec - but jump about 6 sec in).

Crazy Rally Shots
Here's the ITTF video (23 sec)! It's also a contest - send in your own entries!

Guy Uses Random Things To Play Ping Pong With
Here's the video (31 sec)!

Funny Table Tennis
Here's the video (4:24)!

Non-Table Tennis - Two New Books
I have two new books out, both coming out over the weekend. They are both short story collections. Hope you'll buy one or both! They are:

  • Still More Pings and Pongs, 192 pages. This is a collection of the best 25 science fiction & fantasy stories I've sold from 2016-2020. It is the third in the series, after Pings and Pongs and More Pings and Pongs. Alas, table tennis only shows up sporadically in these stories!
  • Trump Tales: A Taunting, 112 pages. This includes 11 SF & Fantasy stories I've written that satirize Trump, seven of them previously published, four new. If you are, somehow, a Trump fan, stay away! 

***
Send us your own coaching news!

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